How Can Speakers Move Beyond PowerPoint During Presentations?

How can speakers do more that just use PowerPoint?
How can speakers do more that just use PowerPoint?
Image Credit: Paul Hudson

When we give a speech, we use our words to capture the attention of our audience. However, in this modern age in which we are all living we also have other tools that we can use to help get our point across to our audience: Powerpoint. What I’m really talking about is visual images. All too often when we are giving a chance to use visual images during a speech that we giving, we’ll go to Powerpoint and create a set of slides. However, is this really the right thing for us to be doing? Is there a better way?

The Power Of PowerPoint

Let’s all agree that when we are asked to give a presentation, our first instinct often is to turn to PowerPoint, Microsoft’s almost ubiquitous software, to create slides in support of our speech. It’s a reaction shared by millions of speakers around the globe who are as comfortable with PowerPoint as they are with an old pair of shoes. However, what we need to do is to learn to view PowerPoint as being just one arrow in our design-tool quiver. There is a range of innovative software-design tools that are at our disposal when creating visual aids in support of our speech goals.

Speakers need to realize that as new presentation-design tools go mainstream, speakers have more options for how they design, edit and store their slides, ensuring we can match the right application to varied speaking scenarios. All of this includes software for designing and delivering small-group presentations on iPads or other tablets, storing and editing slideware online or “in the cloud,” and creating even more conceptual presentations in nonlinear ways.

Additionally, when we use PowerPoint today, we employ it for purposes beyond its original slide-design-and-projection function. Owing to advances in PowerPoint’s latest versions, more speakers now use the software as a full “creative suite” for tasks such as editing video or enhancing photographs, as well as for creating printed documents for presentations like sales proposals or white papers. The upshot of all of this is that change has come to the presentations-software market, and if you’re not taking steps to keep pace, you can miss out on opportunities to take your visual aids to another level.

The Next Level In Presentation Tools

The very first thing that speakers need to learn how to do is to design a decision tree. We need to be able to answer a series of “discovery” questions to determine the best design tool for our needs. If a presentation will be used repeatedly internally, for example, we might use the old standby, PowerPoint. However, if the presentation will be delivered more selectively and there’s a compelling need for video or complex graphics, we could opt for Apple’s Keynote design software. PowerPoint has made strides in its newer versions, but speakers still like Keynote for its ability to hold high-resolution video and create transitions.

Speakers also have other presentation-design tools we can employ, depending on our speaking needs. Included in our toolkit is SlideRocket. This cloud-based application is a good fit for speakers on the go. SlideRocket enables us to import existing PowerPoint or Google presentations online for quick-sharing or editing by our fellow speakers. Speakers like it because it is platform agnostic, meaning it works across different operating systems and you don’t have to worry about things you normally would concerning video formats or embedded fonts. SlideRocket also has an iPad application that enables speakers to make presentations from their tablets.

Speakers also are catching on to the fact they can get more bang for their PowerPoint buck by using that venerable software for purposes beyond slide design. We need to realize that PowerPoint is a versatile tool that also can be employed to create visually dynamic print documents as a better option to Microsoft Word and, in some cases, Microsoft Publisher, as well as a lower-cost alternative for basic video- or photo-editing needs. Speakers can turn to PowerPoint for smaller, less complex video-editing projects. Speakers also can create our own videos or convert existing PowerPoint presentations to video format for uploading to sites like YouTube. We can create slides, set them up with auto transitions, build pictures like a slideshow, and then export it all to a video file.

What All Of This Means For You

Speakers know that what they have to say during their next presentation is what they want their audience to leave remembering. However, we are also aware that if we want to be able to hold on to our audience’s attention during an entire speech, then the use of additional audio visual material can really help. I’m pretty sure that we all have our favorite image creation tools that we naturally tend to gravitate to. However, we need to understand that we are living in a constantly changing world and that means that we need to remain aware of what all of our options are.

We can all agree that when it comes time to create a presentation, most of us turn to using PowerPoint. It’s our go to tool. However, we need to realize that we now have many more options. Even PowerPoint now has features and options that allow it to do more than it was originally designed for. When we go to create a new presentation, we need to start out by asking ourselves a set of discovery questions. We need to know if we should be using PowerPoint or Keynote. Online tools like SlideRocket that allow us to upload our presentations and then have others to see and edit them. PowerPoint these days can also be used to perform video and photo editing tasks.

As speakers we have an obligation to stay on top of our game. We want every speech that we give to be memorable to our audience. In order to make that happen, we’d like to use the best supporting visual material. This requires us to remain aware of what tools are available to us and how they can be used to boost our speech. If we take the time to research what tools are available to us for our next speech, we can create a speech that will be truly unforgettable.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Should we use more or fewer visual aids during our presentations when we want to keep the audience’s attention?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Welcome to the 21st Century! As speakers, we often head off to our next presentation with everything that we can think to bring with us. However, as we all know it can be all too easy for us to forget or leave behind some important piece of information or presentation gear. If only there was a way to make sure that this never happened. It turns out that there just might be such a way. Those mobile phones and tablets that we all seem to carry with us everywhere these days have grown in sophistication based on the apps that they can run. A significant number of apps now exist that can help a speaker deliver a great presentation. Do you know about them?